Where Angels Fear to Tread
is the first of E.M. Forster
's six published novels. He wrote it whilst living in Italy at the turn of the last century and it was published in 1905, when Forster was 26. The title refers to the conduct of characters in the book, yes you've guessed: they rush in
. His style is much less mature than in works like Maurice
and The Longest Journey
(which is definitely my favourite of the three I've read) but some themes, like his disgust with the rampant conformism of contemporary society, are already clear in this earliest work.
Lilia Herriton, a young English widow in the thrall of her dead husband's controlling and bourgeois family, goes (is sent) to Italy with a respectable friend of the family to distract her from a man deemed to be unsuitable. In the small and mostly nondescript town of Monteriano she falls wildly in love with Gino Carella, and upon hearing that her 'family' in England plan to intervene she marries the young penniless rogue. Although the novel opens with a mild and comic tone, it becomes more serious as Forster exposes the dangers of intolerance and strict adherance to conventional codes of conduct. I won't detail the whole plot, even though the plot itself is not the most important feature. Like all Forster's work (apparently) this is essential reading, and a defiant acclamation of awareness and independance.